Big Tobacco launches legal fight with govt

The Gillard government’s plea to Big Tobacco not to launch legal action against Labor’s plain-packaging laws has fallen on deaf ears, with Philip Morris announcing it has already served notice of a dispute.
The federal parliament on Monday passed world-first laws that will force all cigarettes to be sold in drab olive-brown packs from December 2012.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon immediately demanded that Big Tobacco respect that mandate.
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“We know that just as many smokers are addicted to tobacco and nicotine the tobacco companies are addicted to litigation,” Ms Roxon told reporters in Canberra.
“But I call on them today to consider respecting the will of the parliament.
“Both houses, and all parties, have supported this legislation.”
But less than an hour later, Philip Morris announced it had already begun legal proceedings using a bilateral investment treaty Australia signed with Hong Kong 20 years ago.
“The notice of arbitration was served on the government immediately following the passage of plain-packaging legislation for tobacco products by the Australian parliament,” parent company Philip Morris Asia Limited said in a statement from Hong Kong where it’s based.
Philip Morris forewarned the government of its plan in late June, when it entered a three-month mandatory negotiation period through the United Nations commission on international trade law.
The cigarette manufacturer argues the commonwealth is effectively planning to steal the company’s brands in contravention of the investment treaty.
Philip Morris said on Monday that damages could run to billions of dollars and the legal process could take “two to three years”.
“In passing the laws today, in our view, the government has breached an international treaty,” Philip Morris spokesman Chris Argent told AAP.
“Plain packaging will damage the value of our brands and there are international business laws against that.”
But legal experts believe things aren’t that clear-cut.
A lawyer who’s had more experience than most fighting cigarette companies in court, Peter Gordon, told AAP in late June that Philip Morris was actually on shaky ground.
Mr Gordon argued that the commonwealth wasn’t taking away the property rights of tobacco companies but rather ensuring they weren’t used to improperly promote cigarette use among kids.
At the same time, international law expert Don Anton noted that public regulation for a public purpose was not direct or indirect expropriation “and therefore is not prohibited by the investment treaty”.
Philip Morris, like British American Tobacco Australia (BATA), also plans to launch domestic action in the High Court of Australia.
Ms Roxon was asked on Monday if legal action would delay the start of plain packaging.
“We don’t believe that it needs to,” she replied.
“(But) I’m not going to go through the legal ins and outs and possibilities as we potentially face litigation in lots of different forums.”
By Julian Drape
news.smh.com.au

WHO Worldwide Tobacco Facts

— The World Health Organization describes the tobacco epidemic as “one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.”
— WHO says millions of people die each year as a result of tobacco use, and the number will only grow unless action is taken. It says tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world, with tobacco killing up to half of its users.
— Tobacco use is one of the main risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, lung diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.
— The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke.
— Unless urgent action is taken, the epidemic could kill up to 8 million people each year by 2030, of which more than 80 percent will live in low- and middle-income countries.
— Consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-income countries.
In some countries, children from poor households are frequently employed in tobacco farming to provide family income. These children are especially vulnerable to “green tobacco sickness,” which is caused by the nicotine that is absorbed through the skin from the handling of wet tobacco leaves.
— Because there is a lag of several years between when people start using tobacco and when their health suffers, the epidemic of tobacco-related disease and death has just begun. Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.
This report is the third in a series of WHO reports on the status of global tobacco control policy implementation.
All data on the level of countries’ achievement for the six MPOWER measures have been updated through 2010, and additional data have been collected on warning the public about the dangers of tobacco. The report examines in detail the two primary strategies to provide health warnings – labels on tobacco product packaging and anti-tobacco mass media campaigns. It provides a comprehensive overview of the evidence base for warning people about the harms of tobacco use as well as country-specific information on the status of these measures.
To continue the process of improving data analysis, categories of policy achievement have been refined and, where possible, made consistent with new and evolving guidelines for the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Data from the 2009 report have been re-analyzed to be consistent with these new categories, allowing for more direct comparisons of the data across both reports.
voanews.com

Secondhand Smoke, Pregnant Women, And Scary Health Claims

While few people argue against the negative effects of smoking on health, the jury is still out regarding the long-term damage that can be inflicted by secondhand smoke. To be sure, there are plenty of news releases suggesting that thousands of cancers and other serious diseases can be attributed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). However, nearly all of these claims are based on statistical modeling, rather than hard data on actual patients.
We do know that most toxins have profoundly greater effects in utero. Thus, pregnant women are cautioned to avoid exposure to drugs and environmental chemicals—including ETS. Stephen G. Grant, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, has been studying the effects of ETS on newborns, who were exposed to it while in the womb.
In a 2005 paper, Grant examined the effects of ETS—as well as active smoking by the mother—on a particular gene (HPRT) of the newborns.
The disturbing findings of this research were that both active maternal smoking and secondary maternal exposure produce quantitatively and qualitatively indistinguishable increases in fetal HPRT mutation. More than that, Grant concluded that this effect is not lessened to any measurable degree if the mother stops smoking upon confirmation of pregnancy. He did posit that ETS could play a role in this phantom ongoing effect.
In a paper just published online in The Open Pediatric Medicine Journal, Grant confirms smoke-induced mutation in a completely different gene—glycophorin A. Here again, there was little difference in results between active smoking and passive exposure to ETS. And, there was also the finding that stopping smoking during pregnancy was of little benefit if the mother did not also limit exposure to ETS.
It is noted that the women studied categorized themselves into the four groups of unexposed, passive only, quit during pregnancy, and smoked throughout. This self-assessment was tested with further blood assays that checked for smoking metabolites and drugs of abuse. Still, various confounding factors including nutrition and exposure to other toxins could not be evaluated.
Grant seems to be the best promoter of his own work…
“These findings back up our previous conclusion that passive, or secondary, smoke causes permanent genetic damage in newborns that is very similar to the damage caused by active smoking. By using a different assay, we were able to pick up a completely distinct yet equally important type of genetic mutation that is likely to persist throughout a child’s lifetime. Pregnant women should not only stop smoking, but be aware of their exposure to tobacco smoke from other family members, work and social situations.”
How about a reality check?
Grant is certainly correct when he cautions pregnant women to stop smoking. As to ETS, a few points should be considered.
Any effect of toxins on genes would be dose-dependent, but Grant’s four categories of exposure hardly quantify dose. This alone should cast serious doubts on his conclusions. Is it possible that in nine months of pregnancy a woman can really be “unexposed” to environmental tobacco smoke? And imagine the variation in exposure that must have existed within the “passive only” cohort.
With some exceptions, the notion of a mutation persisting throughout life is absurd. Based on exposure to countless factors, mutations are occurring—by the millions—all the time. In fact, the inherent mechanism of DNA to repair itself is so prodigious that it directly correlates with the life expectancy of organisms. Inasmuch as Grant’s assays were run on newborn cord blood, they would not reflect in vivo repair modalities.
Finally, what are the public health implications of encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking, but then stating that it will do them no good if they cannot also avoid exposure to ETS? Perhaps the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development—one of the agencies that funded Grant’s work—should be asking themselves this question.
By Michael D. Shaw
gasdetection.com

Warnings on cigarette packs getting bigger, more graphic

Smoking causes gangrene.
It says so right on the front — and back — of cigarette packages sold in New Zealand, right beside a revolting photograph of a severely gangrenous foot.
Some consider the connection between tobacco and gangrene to be vital information that smokers in New Zealand and elsewhere need to know. Maybe the knowledge will help persuade them to quit.
“It’s very important to educate and raise awareness about all the health risks associated with smoking,” says Garfield Mahood, honorary executive director of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association, a Canadian lobby group.
Others wonder.
“My mother got gangrene and she never smoked in her life,” says Yvonne Bertin, an accounts manager at Canada Trust, who’s taking an outdoor cigarette break on a cold, drizzly autumn day, shivering amid the glass-and-steel jungle of downtown Toronto. “If you’re gonna smoke, you’re gonna smoke.”
Up to a point, Bertin is probably right.
At least for diehard smokers, even the spectre of body tissue necrosis (a.k.a. gangrene) seems unlikely to accomplish what the fear of lung cancer, heart disease, miscarriage and myriad other medical malfunctions caused by smoking has so far failed to achieve.
In other words, gangrene alone won’t cause hard-core smokers to quit.
Not that the dangers of gangrene play any part in a series of sometimes-lurid warning labels scheduled to be affixed to Canadian cigarette packages early next year, the first new issue of such labels in more than a decade.
But other, equally horrible fates do, including stroke, oral cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The question is: do grotesque depictions of disability, disfigurement and even death produce changes in behaviour? Do they make some smokers quit?
“Frankly, I don’t know,” concedes Mahood. “There are so many other factors. I don’t know how you separate the different factors.”
Smokers themselves are not necessarily in the best position to judge — being addicts, after all — but many say they regard the warning labels as ineffective.
“It’s not like I don’t know the health risks,” says Rahul, a research analyst at a Bay St. investment dealer, who withheld his last name because his wife doesn’t know he smokes. “I don’t think the warnings, as such, help.”
First introduced in Canada in 1989, mandatory warning labels on packages of cigarettes and other tobacco products have grown steadily more prominent and sensational.
The 16 exterior labels now in use were rolled out in 2000, and they cover 50 per cent of the front and back surfaces of cigarette packages sold legally in Canada.
The replacement labels will occupy 75 per cent of the front and back surfaces and will include some extremely gory images (for example, oral cancer) as well as others that are less gruesome but possibly more disturbing (for example, a photo of a gaunt and wasted Barb Tarbox, who died of smoking-related lung cancer at age 42 in 2003).
Manuel Arango, director of health policy for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, is convinced such warnings work, even if it’s difficult to prove statistically.
“An average smoker sees the package approximately 30 times a day,” he says. “It’s right in your face. If the warning is emotionally powerful, it can have an impact.”
But Amir Amir, who sells magazines and cigarettes at a downtown news agency, isn’t so sure.
“Most people — they don’t look at them,” he says.
Statistics Canada reported last year that the introduction of the current warning labels 11 years ago coincided with a significant decline in the proportion of Canadians who smoke, which fell from 25 per cent of those aged 15 years or older in 1999 to 19 per cent in 2005. But smoking rates have levelled off since then.
Besides, it’s difficult to attribute such fluctuations to any single factor. Other variables that may influence tobacco use include price increases, restrictions on the advertising and open display of cigarettes, bans on smoking in public places and the availability of contraband tobacco products.
Still, there is an intuitive case to be made that the warnings have some effect.
After all, who wouldn’t be shaken by the sight of a dead human fetus crumpled amid a litter of cigarette butts (a warning label in Brazil) or a man with a hole in his throat (various countries, soon to include Canada)?
“A lot of this is just common sense,” says Mahood. “Can anyone believe these images would not have an effect on attitude?”
Well, yes. Eric Gagnon, for one.
A spokesman for Imperial Tobacco of Canada — the country’s largest purveyor of cigarettes — Gagnon denies the warning labels act as deterrents to smoking.
“It’s poor policy for political gain,” he says. “Everybody knows the health risks associated with smoking.”
But knowing is one thing. Repulsive pictures of diseased hearts, lungs or gums are another.
Shortly after such images were first slapped on cigarette packages in Canada, at least some smokers reacted defensively, hurriedly slipping their newly purchased smokes into pretty sleeve devices that hid the pictures of blood and gore.
That practice seems less common now, but at least some smokers remain keenly sensitive to the warning labels, tolerating some but eschewing others.
“They don’t want pictures of humans or human parts,” says Amir. “They don’t like the humans.”
Amir reports that men seem pickier than women in this regard. But women have their weak spots, too.
Bertin, who admits to smoking about five cigarettes a day, says she tries to avoid labels that highlight the second-hand effects of smoking on infants and children.
“More than anything, it’s the babies,” she says. “If I were pregnant, I would quit.”
Unpleasant as they are, the new Canadian labels don’t satisfy all health advocates, at least some of whom believe the revised warnings should be even more jarring.
Their precise impact may be in doubt, but the trend toward ever more graphic warning labels on cigarette packages appears to be relentless. Even the United States, which has favoured mild warnings , is joining the anti-smoking horror show, with the first update of U.S. cigarette warning labels in 25 years.
“The aggregate of these messages has to send a multitude of implications,” says Mahood at the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association. “If the risk of gangrene doesn’t deter someone, maybe a picture of someone who has had a part of their jaw removed might. These people — most of them want to quit.”
By Oakland Ross
Thestar.com

Multi-pronged plan to tackle tobacco menace in offing

PUNE: The state government is set take on tobacco menace, a major preventable cause of death and disease among adults worldwide, with a multi-pronged political and administrative strategy. The move comes against the backdrop that civic organisations and women groups in the state have joined hands to bring tobacco addiction to the political agenda ahead of the elections for the 27 zilla parishads and 10 municipal corporations scheduled for the next eight months.
In a high level meeting in Mumbai on Thursday, Satej Patil, minister of state for home and food and drugs administration initiated the amendments in the Shop Act, ordered introductions of new norms in FDA and most importantly, said his party (the Congress) will take a stand against tobacco.
“We have drafted a strategy to tackle alarming levels of smoking, and consumption of tobacco and gutkha in the state. The state has taken serious cognizance of rising level of tobacco consumption and smoking among schoolchildren and college youths. We will tackle this problem at administrative and political levels,” said Patil while speaking to TOI on Friday.
“Sale and consumption of tobacco is banned within 100 yards of premises of schools and colleges but the idea of tobacco-free campuses has remained only on paper. An alarming number of vendors are found selling cigarettes and other tobacco products outside schools and colleges across seven divisions of the state.”
The minister added: “We will now initiate legal steps to empower headmasters of schools and principals of colleges to take action against the shopkeepers and vendors who sale tobacco products. As of now, they have very limited rights in this regard. Also, we are amending the Shop Act which will put a pre-condition for any commercial establishments around schools and colleges not sale tobacco products, and if they breach the condition, their licences will be cancelled.”
Patil said the home department has already asked the urban development department to start procedure for this amendment. “As of now, there are no strong legal provisions against shopkeepers who sell tobacco products around school and college premises,” said Patil.
FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade, who was present at the meeting, told TOI that the government will take steps to increase the number of food inspectors in the state to launch a sustainable campaign against tobacco. “As of now, the FDA has just 60 inspectors, which is a very small number considering the population of the state. Even police sub-inspectors are authorised to take action against those who sale tobacco in educational premises, but they are busy in their work. Hence, the FDA will increase its staff,” said Zagade.
Tobacco kills nearly 5.7 million people worldwide each year. According to the World Health Organization, smoking is the world’s leading cause of preventable death. It causes 1 in 10 deaths among adults worldwide. At the current rate, the death toll is projected to reach more than 8 million annually by 2030 and a total of up to one billion deaths in the 21st century.
Recently, NGOs and activists working in campaign against tobacco had demanded that the state handle the issue at political level.
“According to estimates, three crore people in the state will die prematurely in the coming decade if we do not impose a ban on tobacco today. There is nothing more urgent than this. We had taken this issue to the FDA minister and the state government,” said Pankaj Chaturvedi, associate professor, Tata memorial hospital.
“We will take a political stand on this issue. In fact, in my assembly constituency in Kolhapur South, I recently announced that the party will avoid nominating candidates in forthcoming local elections if they are tobacco addicts. We have to take stand on this issue as it is question of lives of thousands of people,” Patil said.
It is interesting to note that Patil’s home district, Kolhapur, has 1,500 hectares of land under tobacco cultivation, while neighbouring Sangli has 450 hectares. The annual tobacco production in the state is over 2,200 tonnes with some other parts of the state contributing to the production.
The stand taken by the Congress minister is likely to make the Nationalist Congress Party ministers in the state cabinet unhappy. The NCP, alliance partner of the Congress, has repeatedly gone on the defensive on the issue since one of their leaders has interests in the tobacco industry.
“It’s high time that the links of politicians and tobacco industry come to the fore. Let people understand who are the people involved in the business and who benefit from it. Anti-tobacco campaigns will succeed only when we track the flow of money involved in it, Vilas Baba Jawal, an anti-tobacco activist based in Satara, said.Killer Facts.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research’s ‘Cancer associated with the use of tobacco’ report, nearly 44.4% of all cancers in men in Kolkata are because of tobacco, followed by Chennai (41.4%), Delhi (39.4%) and Mumbai (39.2%)
Besides the four metropolitan cities, the burden of tobacco associated cancers is acute in other cosmopolitan cities like Bangalore and Pune.
According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 21% of Indian population is addicted to smokeless tobacco alone and another 5% smoke as well as use smokeless tobacco.
Around 75% of the 275 million Indians consume smokeless tobacco products
In India, more and more women are now taking to smoking. According to the Tobacco Atlas, the country ranks third in the top 20 female smoking populations across the globe. With around a crore female smokers in India, only the US with 2.3 crore female smokers and China with 1.3 crore female smokers, are worse off.
The World health Organization figures indicate that 33% adult Indian males and 18.4% adult Indian females use smokeless tobacco. Among the youth, 19% males and 8.3% females use some forms of tobacco.
According to the India Cancer Initiative report, more than 4,000 different chemicals have been found in tobacco and tobacco smoke. More than 60 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer (carcinogens).

Senate delay in tobacco plain packaging law

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has been embarrassed by delays to her tobacco plain packaging legislation caused by a government attempt to bring on the carbon tax debate in the Senate earlier.
Ms Roxon issued a strongly worded media release mid-afternoon yesterday lashing opposition senators for their “delaying tactics”, saying they had “played into the hands of big tobacco”.
“The opposition has twice chosen to stall the bill by choosing to debate procedural, administrative issues, playing into the hands of the tobacco companies,” Ms Roxon insisted. “Despite Tony Abbott saying he supports this legislation, the opposition continue to effectively block it.”
But the opposition has fired back, saying debate was delayed by government attempts to start debate on the carbon tax bills immediately, rather than in the extra sitting week next month arranged in the September sittings to debate the legislation.
The plain packaging legislation was passed by the House of Representatives on August 24 and the government has had ten sitting days since to get the matter through the Senate.
In a letter to Ms Roxon yesterday Liberal Senator Fierravanti-Wells said she had consulted with Coalition senators yesterday at the request of the minister asking them to reduce the time they would speak on the bill to speed its passage through the Senate.
A number of them agreed to do this.
“In light of your media release, I would assume my efforts have been in vain,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said in her letter.
“Indeed I question the bona fides of your call to me this morning,” she said.
Debate on the plain packaging bills commenced in the Senate on Tuesday but Senator Fierravanti- Wells was able to speak for just seven minutes before Senate question time intervened.
The Senate did not return to the matter yesterday.
Although the bill was listed for debate by the Manager of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Bill Ludwig called for debate on a change to the hours and a variation in business early yesterday.
“The Senate has failed to debate the plain packaging legislation because the Gillard government has failed to bring it forward. Today it abandoned debate on other matters to bring forward the carbon tax bills,” opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton said.
“The government decides the order of business in the Senate,” he said.
He said Ms Roxon “had form in failing to get her legislation through parliament in a timely fashion and then turning around to blame everyone, but herself or her shambolic government”.
The Coalition has pledged to support the plain packaging legislation that will replace branded tobacco packets with a uniform dirty brown packet covered in health warnings.
By Christian Kerr and Sue Dunlevy
From: The Australian

Try smokeless nicotine cigarettes, says government

The government’s “nudge unit” wants to encourage the use of smokeless nicotine cigarettes, banned in many countries around the world, in an attempt to reduce the numbers killed in the UK by smoking diseases each year.
The Cabinet Office’s behavioural insight team – better known as the nudge unit – wants to adopt the new technology because policy officials believe the rigid “quit or die” approach to smoking advice no longer works. Rather, they want nicotine addiction to be managed to help smokers who otherwise won’t quit – an approach the unit believes could prevent millions of smoking deaths. Ten million people in the UK smoke, and smoking claims 80,000 lives a year.
The nudge unit’s first annual report, published on Thursday, says the unit – the first of its kind around the world – has, in the face of criticism, implemented a series of measures they believe could save thousands of lives a year, as well as £100m over the course of the next parliament.
Ideas already being rolled out include “nudging” people to donate organs by asking someone to opt out rather than opt in when filling out an online driving licence application. The report also says the government is to change tax forms to tell people how many people in their area have paid their taxes ahead of them.
Now the unit wants to explore and encourage new products that deliver nicotine to people’s lungs but without the harmful toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke that kill.
The annual report reads: “It will be important to get the regulatory framework for these products right, to encourage new products. A canon of behaviour change is that it is much easier to substitute a similar behaviour than to extinguish an entrenched habit (an example was the rapid switch from leaded to unleaded fuel). If alternative and safe nicotine products can be developed which are attractive enough to substitute people away from traditional cigarettes, they could have the potential to save 10,000s of lives a year.”
Current alternatives to smoking range from smokeless tobacco to the Swedish snuff-like product Snus, which is illegal in the UK. Versions of smoke-free cigarettes are illegal in Australia, and banned in Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand because side-effects haven’t been tested.
But experts have advised the UK government that the nicotine contained in some new, smoke-free cigarettes is no more harmful than caffeine in coffee. A Cabinet Office source said: “A lot of countries are moving to ban this stuff; we think that’s a mistake.”
John Britton, professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, told the Guardian that on top of the current smokeless range – which includes electronic or “e-cigarettes” that simulate smoking by producing an inhaled mist – there are three or four devices in different stages of development. But he said some companies have been reluctant to develop this technology because they had expected it to be as tightly controlled as pharmaceutical drugs.
Britton said: “If a manufacturer makes a health claim for anything then it becomes a drug, and drugs have to be regulated with tight controls. The current nicotine replacements are sold as drugs; however, e-cigarettes contain nicotine but get around this by making no health claim and so can be sold freely, but with little or no information on safety or standards. What we’re asking for is a regulation change to bring all nicotine products into a light-touch regime that will guarantee reasonable purity and safety standards but make them as available as cigarettes in a shop.”
The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking into approving these devices for use. If it finds in their favour, the government is likely to push for them to be placed prominently in shops alongside tobacco cigarettes, where they would be sold at a cheaper rate.
The unit is keen to engage with those critics who believe its analysis and intervention in people’s behaviour is “nanny statism”.
David Halpern, the unit’s head, told the Guardian: “As with seatbelts and the smoking ban, these ideas were unpopular at first but after a while when you explain them to people, they understand and say, ‘Yeah, alright then.’
“A year in,” Halpern added, “we’re much more confident about how well this can work, and the early trials have also made us much more confident about public acceptability. There’s no doubt it can save many lives and hundreds of millions of pounds. In fact, our problem has become that we have so many inquiries from across Whitehall, we have to turn down many of the requests for help.”
By Allegra Stratton
guardian.co.uk

State Preemption of Local Tobacco Control Policies Restricting Smoking, Advertising, and Youth Access

Preemptive state tobacco control legislation prohibits localities from enacting tobacco control laws that are more stringent than state law. State preemption provisions can preclude any type of local tobacco control policy. The three broad types of state preemption tracked by CDC include preemption of local policies that restrict:
1) smoking in workplaces and public places,
2) tobacco advertising, and
3) youth access to tobacco products. A Healthy People 2020 objective (TU-16) calls for eliminating state laws that preempt any type of local tobacco control law.
A previous study reported that the number of states that preempt local smoking restrictions in one or more of three settings (government worksites, private-sector worksites, and restaurants) has decreased substantially in recent years. To measure progress toward achieving Healthy People 2020 objectives, this study expands on the previous analysis to track changes in state laws that preempt local advertising and youth access restrictions and to examine policy changes from December 31, 2000, to December 31, 2010. This new analysis found that, in contrast with the substantial progress achieved during the past decade in reducing the number of states that preempt local smoking restrictions, no progress has been made in reducing the number of states that preempt local advertising restrictions and youth access restrictions. Increased progress in removing state preemption provisions will be needed to achieve the relevant Healthy People 2020 objective.
Data on state preemption provisions were obtained from CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System database for the 50 states and the District of Columbia.* The STATE System contains tobacco-related epidemiologic and economic data and information on state tobacco-related legislation. In determining whether state laws preempt local smoking restrictions, the STATE System considers statutes and examines relevant case law, because rulings by state courts sometimes have been decisive in determining whether local policies were preempted. Because litigation has been less common with regard to state preemption of local advertising and youth access restrictions, the STATE System analyzes state statutes but not case law in these areas. Data are collected quarterly from an online legal research database of state laws and are analyzed, coded, and included in the STATE System.
The number of states that preempt local smoking restrictions decreased from 18 at the end of 2000 to 12 at the end of 2010. During this period,

Number of states with laws in effect that preempt local tobacco control laws restricting smoking, advertising, and youth access, by year --- United States, 2000--2010

Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and South Carolina completely rescinded preemptive provisions or had such provisions overturned by state courts.† In addition, North Carolina rescinded preemption for certain settings, but left it in place for others. Conversely, state courts interpreted ambiguous provisions in New Hampshire and Washington laws as preempting local smoking restrictions. The number of states preempting local advertising restrictions remained constant over the decade at 18. The number of states that preempt local youth access restrictions increased from 21 to 22 during this period, with Pennsylvania enacting a new preemptive provision in 2002.
The number of states with preemptive provisions in any of the three policy categories decreased by one, from 28 states at the end of 2000 to 27 states at the end of 2010. The number of states that preempted local action in all three categories decreased from 11 states at the end of 2000 to seven states at the end of 2010. Those seven states were Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.

TABLE. States with provisions preempting local restrictions on smoking in workplaces and public places, tobacco advertising, and youth access to tobacco products – United States, December 31, 2000 and December 31, 2010
State Any preemption Smoking restrictions Advertising restrictions Youth access restrictions
2000 2010 2000 2010 2000 2010 2000 2010
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California X X X X
Colorado
Connecticut X X X X
Delaware X X X X X X X
District of Columbia
Florida X X X X
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois X X
Indiana X X X X X X
Iowa X X X X X
Kansas
Kentucky X X X X X X
Louisiana X X X X X X X
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan X X X X X X X X
Minnesota
Mississippi X X X X X X X
Missouri
Montana X X X X X X
Nebraska
Nevada X X X X X X X
New Hampshire X X
New Jersey X X
New Mexico X X X X X X
New York
North Carolina X X X X X X X X
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma X X X X X X X X
Oregon X X X X
Pennsylvania X X X X X
Rhode Island
South Carolina X X X X X X X
South Dakota X X X X X X X X
Tennessee X X X X X X X X
Texas
Utah X X X X X X X X
Vermont
Virginia X X X X
Washington X X X X X X X
West Virginia X X X X
Wisconsin X X X X X X
Wyoming X X X X

Reported by

Michelle Griffin, MPH, Univ of Washington. Stephen D. Babb, MPH, Michael Tynan, Allison E. MacNeil, MPH, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC. Corresponding contributor: Stephen D. Babb, sbabb@cdc.gov, 770-488-1172.

Government denies threat of cigarette shortage

The federal government has rubbished a claim by big tobacco that a plan to introduce plain packaging from mid-2012 will result in a cigarette shortage because manufacturers won’t be able to meet the deadline.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) says it’s impossible to produce the olive-brown packs devoid of branding by May as required under Labor’s proposal.
Chief executive David Crow told a parliamentary inquiry on Thursday that illegal cigarettes could flood the market as a result.
“If the bill (draft laws) stands … I will be out of stock on July 1,” he said.
“The cigarettes will have to come from China and India – illegal cigarettes would come in and smother the market.”
Under Labor’s plan, manufacturers would have to produce plain packets from May 20 while retailers would be banned from selling any branded stock six weeks later on July 1, 2012.
But BATA – whose brands include Winfield, cigarettes Dunhill and Benson & Hedges – wants until the start of 2013 to make the transition.
Mr Crow said retailers should be able to sell leftover branded stock until 2014.
But the federal health department says that’s nonsense.
“We certainly wouldn’t agree with their claim that they won’t have any product available as of July 1,” assistant secretary Nathan Smyth told the lower house’s health committee.
Fellow official Simon Cotterell said the department didn’t believe big tobacco needed extra time to prepare.
“We’ve heard so many different figures (from manufacturers) we’re not convinced by those figures,” he said.
“(And) we’re not convinced by the statements that new specialised machinery needs to be bought.”
Mr Cotterell said cigarette makers were already aware of the specifications of the new packs and they didn’t have to wait until regulations were finalised in January.
The only things not locked were the exact shade of colour to be used and the dimensions of the packs.
But, the bureaucrat said, almost all existing cigarette packets would be okay size-wise.
“Most of those packs will fall within the dimensions that are (to be) specified.”
Mr Crow on Thursday reiterated that BATA would challenge the plain packaging legislation in the courts on the grounds that it unlawfully acquired the company’s intellectual property rights.
“We’ll defend ourselves,” he said.
“That will no doubt get adjudicated at some later stage by a court. Whether that’s the High Court or the Federal Court it will happen.”
But the health department’s general counsel isn’t scared of a legal stoush.
“We are confident that should proceedings of that kind be taken we would expect to win,” Chris Reid told the parliamentary hearing.
By Julian Drape

Charlotte is test market for smokeless tobacco lozenges

Bite-sized dissolvable “orbs” that look like breath mints and melt in your mouth are the tobacco industry’s latest attempt to fight falling U.S. cigarette sales.
Charlotte is one of two test markets for Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American’s newest products: dissolvable, smokeless tobacco lozenges that come as orbs, sticks or strips.
The products all contain less nicotine than cigarettes, between .5 and 3 milligrams instead of 12 to 15 milligrams. And, Reynolds spokesman David Howard said, they meet a “societal expectation.”
“There’s no secondhand smoke, no spitting and no cigarette butt litter,” Howard said.
But health officials still worry about the risks of smokeless options.
Smokeless tobacco users may not get lung cancer, health experts say, but they risk mouth cancer, gum disease and tooth loss. Prenatal dangers for pregnant women also still exist.
“There are no safe tobacco products,” said Dr. Matt Carpenter, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina who’s researching the effect of smokeless products on smoking habits.
Huntersville, N.C., resident Joey Hodge, who’s smoked for almost five years, sees the appeal of smokeless products that won’t be as tough on his lungs or make him smell like smoke. But the 20-year-old isn’t sold on Reynolds’s newest offering.
“They were definitely not the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted,” Hodge said. Plus, he added, the products “really didn’t do much” to satisfy his nicotine craving.
Hodge’s reaction isn’t the sort tobacco makers are hoping for. As cigarette sales slide because of the health risks and social stigma, tobacco companies are counting on smokers like Hodge to fuel the new smokeless market. The dissolvable products sell for about $2 for a 12-pack – comparable, Reynolds says, to its other smokeless products.
“They can enjoy tobacco pleasure without bothering others and without having to leave the workplace, or the restaurant or the bar,” Howard said.
Analysts say new laws banning cigarettes in public places, like the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars that took effect in North Carolina last January, are among the factors driving a steep decline in cigarette sales.
“In recent years you’ve seen smoking banned in most states in most bars and restaurants. That kind of takes away the fun,” said Phil Gorham, industry analyst for investment firm Morningstar.
In its second quarter earnings report last month, Reynolds reported the number of cigarettes sold in the U.S. fell 4.4 percent. Gorham said companies like Reynolds can combat falling sales by increasing prices in the short term, but they’ll eventually need to diversify revenues.
While American sales of cigarettes drop 3 percent to 4 percent every year, the market for smokeless products grew 3 percent in 2009 and 7 percent in 2010, said Mary Gotaas, tobacco industry analyst for researcher IBISWorld. This year, smokeless sales are expected to jump 8 percent, Gotaas said.
While Reynolds is testing its new dissolvables, Richmond, Va.-based rival Philip Morris has its own product in the works: a dissolvable tobacco stick.
The growth of smokeless products worries some public health advocates who think the new products appeal to children. During the first round of testing, the orbs’ packaging resembled Tic-Tacs, creating concern that children might confuse them with candy, said Dr. John Spangler, professor of family health and community medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
For this round of testing, there’s larger packaging and new warnings. Packages now say “This product contains nicotine and is for adult tobacco consumers only” and “There is no safe tobacco product,” in addition to one of four required FDA warnings.
The Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee of the FDA is holding hearings exploring the implications of smokeless products. Right now, all tobacco products must be age-restricted and kept behind the counter, just like cigarettes.
Warning labels on smokeless tobacco products must cover at least 30 percent of the packaging and every product must carry one of four messages: “Smokeless tobacco is addictive,” “This product can cause mouth cancer,” “This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss,” or “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
Howard said there’s no expectation that smokeless dissolvables will be regulated less strictly than other tobacco products. But Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, one of 12 senators who called for the hearings, called dissolvables the latest way for tobacco companies to stay “one step ahead of the sheriff.”
One issue on the committee’s agenda: the potential use of smokeless tobacco products as quitting aids. Gotaas said that appeal is one of the factors driving smokeless sales.
Dean Torrance of Charlotte, a smoker for 20 years, has tried, and failed, to quit. She said smokeless products may be just what she needs. “I would like to be able to do smokeless to get me to stop,” Torrance said.
But doctors say there are safer ways to quit smoking. Both Spangler and Carpenter recommend their patients use tested and proven medications, such as nicotine replacement pills and patches, instead of other tobacco products with unknown consequences that could keep them addicted.
Said Carpenter: “The very best thing that anybody can do for their health, if they’re a smoker, is to quit all tobacco products completely.”
By Eleanor Kennedy
news@charlotteobserver.com